Increase engagement with creative learning ideas

Share this page

Written by Leigh Chattington and Richard Graham on 23 December 2014

Pause for a moment to consider the last time you had an ‘ah-ha moment’. A time when you suddenly grasped a new concept, overcame a challenge, received just the right advice or finally felt completely comfortable performing a task. Where were you? What was happening around you? Research from the Centre for Creative Leadership (CCL) suggests that your last ‘light bulb moment’, probably didn’t happen in a classroom. Learning that leads to sustainable behavioural change, takes place within three clusters of activity:

1) On-the-job experience working on challenging assignments (70 per cent)

2) Exposure to others through developmental relationships (20 per cent)

3) Classroom education, online learning and coursework (10 per cent)

Courses are not enough

Many managers believe that sending someone on a course is enough to develop required skills and confidence. By no means is the classroom redundant – this is still a rich learning environment, but it is what managers do before and after any training course that can really help people change. There’s no substitute for an honest feedback conversation, goal setting followed by challenging and creative learning activities. On-the-job development is practical, cost effective and can add immediate business value. Leaders need to be hands-on, thinking up new channels for learning and connecting people, but this doesn’t need to take a lot of time. For some quick inspiration, see below:

Experience (70) Exposure (20) Education (10)


  • Lead/support in a department-wide project
  • Take on a new area of responsibility
  • Act as someone's back-up while they're away 
  • Summarise trends in the market and present findings back to the team
  • Serve on an organisational working group
  • Take part in shadowing or a secondment
  • Identify a mentor to work with from the same or a different department
  • Facilitate feedback between team members
  • Meet with colleagues from other departments to better understand each others’ goals and contributions
  • Coach someone who’s transitioning into a new role
  • Attend a face-to-face course led by an internal or external provider
  • Complete an e-learning module related to your development area
  • Read a bestselling business book
  • Find an online video tutorial to watch
  • Commit to regularly reading a blog, such as the Harvard Business Review

Getting started
Given that many company review processes are just around the corner, here’s a simple, step-by-step process to help you prepare for a development conversation using creative learning ideas:

Before – prepare:

  • Consider a skill or behaviour that one of your team members needs to develop in order to perform better in their role
  • Determine what success will look like – how will you know they’ve successfully developed? What would you see or hear them doing differently?
  • Analyse the gap between where they are today, and where they will be when they’re demonstrating success?

During – support:

  • Discuss the development area with your team member and get agreement that this is indeed an area they need to develop in
  • Be explicit about the reasons why you need them to develop. Together explore the benefits to them, their clients and the organisation
    • Ask coaching questions to help them explore how they would like to develop. For example:
      • ‘What projects do you think you’d like to get involved with that will help you develop confidence in this area?’
      •  ‘Who does this really well in the team or department that you could learn from?’
  • Use the ideas in the table above as a starting point to create a development plan with activities, milestones and deadlines. Remember to aim for 70 per cent of learning through on-the-job experiences, 20 per cent from exposure to others and 10 per cent through formal education

After – debrief:

  • Schedule regular ‘check-ins’
  • Ask your team member to reflect on each learning experience and share what they think went well and what they could have done better
  • Give feedback from your own perspective  
  • Discuss ways to further develop in required areas
  • Find opportunities for them to share their learning with others

Taking a joint approach by asking questions and gaining agreement on development areas not only increases engagement with the process, it also gives your team member the awareness they need to take ownership. If you combine this with a creative approach to development planning you will definitely see an increase in engagement. For further help and support you can also contact your local HR or L&D representative.


About the author
Leigh Chattington and Richard Graham are part of the leadership, learning and organisational development team at Bloomberg

Related Articles

29 June 2022

This week’s look at the news, reviews and research for all those working in HR, talent, skills and workplace learning and organisational development.

21 June 2022

The latest news for HR, talent, and learning and organisational development leaders selected by the TJ editorial team

15 June 2022

Nordic research is paving the way for the future of work, Kirsi Nuotto outlines the work of her company the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland